Philadelphia Phillies Rumors
If you are looking for a unique way to occupy your evening, be sure to follow (or re-read) the Dodgers' Twitter feed as unparalleled announcer Vin Scully chats about his incredible memories and observations on today's game. (A sample: Scully says he had to be on his feet watching for foul balls at old Briggs Stadium -- better known as Tiger Stadium -- because "the booth was so close to home you could hear the hitter grunt.") Also worth reading are the following links looking ahead to the coming trade deadline period:
- The market for closers could focus on Glen Perkins and Steve Cishek if Jonathan Papelbon and Rafael Betancourt are unavailable, tweets MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons. Teams like the Tigers and Red Sox are potentially on the hunt for late-inning help, but Gammons says to expect a high price on Perkins and Cishek.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com took a look at Boston's closer situation today. GM Ben Cherington did not rule out the possibility of dealing for late-inning help, but also said that the club had internal options.
- Buyers should not expect Papelbon to be available, Gammons further tweets. He cites an unnamed GM as saying that the Phillies are unlikely to deal their closer or star pitcher Cliff Lee given "their pending TV deal."
- Potential buyers include the Giants, Orioles, Padres, Diamondbacks, and Reds, according to Baseball Prospectus. While the O's may join the Giants on the market for starting pitching, BP's Bret Sayre says the club should also be in on a second baseman to address its glaring issues there. Likewise, Cincinnati's shopping list is relatively clear: an outfielder to replace the injured Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey. BP further suggests that the Padres have many areas that could warrant an upgrade, while the Dbacks ought to look to add a "star" to compliment the emerging Paul Goldschmidt.
- While the Nationals were quiet at last year's deadline, ultimately acquiring backstop Kurt Suzuki in a post-deadline deal, MLB.com's Bill Ladson suggests that the team could be more active this season. Getting the injured Wilson Ramos and Bryce Harper back is the first order of business, but the Nats could look to add a veteran right-handed bench bat given the struggles of the demoted Tyler Moore. Ladson also wonders whether Washington could look to pick up a fifth starter to replace the inconsistent Dan Haren. But with Haren's salary and track record, Ladson says, the team is unlikely at this point to make such a move. (It is worth noting, too, that the Nats still have Chris Young working at Triple-A on an incentive-laden deal, though Young has struggled to a 7.88 ERA in seven starts.)
- Although the Rangers have struggled at the plate, ESPN.com's Richard Durrett says the team's first order of business should be to shop for starters at the deadline. With the young back of the rotation still looking for consistency, and Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison still major injury question marks, Durrett says the club could look at high-end arms like Cliff Lee. Durrett's colleague Todd Wills, on the other hand, writes (same link) that Texas should focus on finding a left fielder. He suggests that Andre Ethier, Josh Willingham, and Carlos Quentin are viable possibilities. With Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry failing to nail down their roles and Nelson Cruz still potentially a suspension target, says Wills, outfield depth could the the key down the stretch.
- The Padres' recent hot streak has made the team a bubble buyer, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Sanders suggests that starting pitching is the most likely target, as GM Josh Byrnes has said. He says that arms like Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle are potentially available could be a nice fit in the NL West's larger ballparks. Alternatively, if the Pads turn into sellers, the team may be able to find takers for pitchers Eric Stults, Jason Marquis, Edinson Volquez, and Huston Street.
- Other bubble teams include the Dodgers, Giants, and Indians, writes ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required). Still in contention and with solid enough cores to remain there, Bowden says these clubs are in "reload" mode and gives an in-depth analysis of their trade deadline approach. Los Angeles could use improvements on the left side of the infield and back of the bullpen, and might also look to add rotation or pen depth. San Francisco, meanwhile, could (as noted above) look for rotation help or shop for an outfielder given Angel Pagan's injury. For Cleveland, Bowden says that the team should look to add "at least two more quality arms" while not selling away the team's future. Be sure to check out the link for further analysis and potential trade scenarios.
Here are today's notable draft notes and non-first-round signings (all slot info courtesy of Baseball America)...
- High school lefty Stephen Gonsalves has agreed to a $700k bonus with the Twins, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). The fourth-round pick Gonsalves, once considered a possible first-rounder, signed for about $232k over slot rather than attending the University of San Diego.
- The Diamondbacks have signed second-round choice Justin Williams with a roughly at-slot bonus, tweets Callis. The high school shortstop, who is advised by the Boras Corporation, will likely take his raw power to the outfield as a pro.
- The Phillies will not sign sixth-round choice Jason Monda, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports on Twitter. The Washington State junior had initially seemed willing to sign, but elected instead to return for his final year as a collegiate ballplayer.
- Third-rounder Jacob Hannemann has agreed to a $1MM bonus with the Cubs, Callis reports via Twitter. The contract pays the speedy BYU outfielder over $250k more than his recommended slot.
- The Indians have given a well-above-slot bonus to fifth-round choice Sean Brady, tweets Callis. The high-school lefty, who is advised by Tom O'Connell, will receive $800k from Cleveland, over double the $347,100 slot recommendation.
- Yankees second-rounder Gosuke Katoh has signed for the full slot value of $845,700, according to Callis (on Twitter).
- Callis also reports that the Padres signed supplemental second-rounder Jordan Paroubeck for a $750K bonus (Twitter links). The prep outfielder from California has solid tools across the board, according to Callis. He signed for $58K under slot.
- The Padres have also agreed to terms with eighth-rounder Adrian De Horta on a well over-slot deal, MLBTR has learned. De Horta, who is advised by Terry Jones of Reynolds Sports Management, agreed to a $425K signing bonus, which is about $269K over slot value for the No. 238 overall selection. The deal is pending a physical. MLB.com doesn't have a full scouting report on De Horta, though they do offer a scouting video for Padres fans to check out.
Here's tonight's look around baseball as Tuesday turns into Wednesday..
- Bud Norris knows that he's a prime trade candidate, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Norris tells Morosi that he feels it's critical to stay informed: “I don’t think you want to be blindsided by it: One day, you come to the park and, boom, you’re gone. I don’t pay too much attention to it, but I’m definitely in the loop." Norris goes on to say that being traded to the Giants, his favorite team as a child, would be a dream come true, but he would be excited to stay with the Astros and keep helping them as well.
- Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com wonders if an Andre Ethier trade is inevitable for the Dodgers. As it stands now, the only other alternatives are Yasiel Puig getting sent down, someone other than Ethier getting traded, or Ethier becoming the club's fourth outfielder once they're back to full strength. Puig is obviously going to stay in the Majors, and trades involving Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford are unlikely, making Ethier the most likely man to go.
- Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet looks at the Blue Jays' options for making room on the roster when Jose Reyes returns to action. Their roster shuffling could lead them to expose someone to waivers and Emilio Bonifacio is a candidate.
- Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch weighs the pros and cons of the Cardinals going after Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee. Ultimately, Miklasz concludes that Cards GM John Mozeliak won't take on Lee’s full salary commitment or surrender his best pitching prospects, even if there is a surplus.
The Phillies have signed first-round pick J.P. Crawford for the full slot value of $2,299,300, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). Chuck Hixson of Philly Baseball Insider was the first to tweet that a deal was in place. Crawford, a high school shortstop out of California, is advised by Len Strelitz of the Wasserman Media Group.
Callis notes that Crawford was "easily the best" shortstop in this year's draft class, as he has a good bat, speed, good defense and a little power as well. Crawford ranked 14th among draft prospects according to ESPN's Keith Law. Baseball America ranked Crawford 15th on their Top 500, and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranked him 19th on his Top 100 list.
Law wrote that Crawford was the only shortstop in the draft who had a better than even chance of sticking at the position. Though he's concerned about Crawford's size, Law called him "a shortstop with a chance to hit and add value on defense, great for a team that doesn't mind taking a player who might not see full-season ball until 2015."
The Phillies hadn't had a true first-round pick since 2011 thanks to their free agent signings of Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee. The also lost their 2009 first-rounder when they signed Raul Ibanez as a free agent. Crawford is the third consecutive high school talent taken with the Phillies' true first-round selections, as they grabbed left-hander Jesse Biddle in 2010 and shortstop Anthony Hewitt in 2008. Crawford is one of 20 first-rounders to agree to terms or sign with his new team thus far.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Despite reports over the weekend that the Astros and first overall pick Mark Appel have already agreed to terms on a below-slot contract, GM Jeff Luhnow today told reporters (including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire) that nothing is official and he has yet to meet with Appel or advisor Scott Boras. "We're trying to move it as fast as we can," Luhnow said. "We wanted to give [Appel] the weekend to enjoy his commencement. We're optimistic we can move it pretty quickly." Luhnow said he hoped that Appel would be signed by as soon as this week.
Here's the latest from around the majors...
- Virtually all of the players recently extended by the Padres have struggled, so Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune said the team might look for future extension candidates to prove themselves more fully before signing them to multiyear deals. Center also discusses several other Padres topics as part of the online chat with fans.
- Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, favored to receive the largest bonus of the coming international signing period, is profiled by Baseball America's Ben Badler. Jimenez, a 16-year-old with a 6'4", 200-pound frame, was reported to be a major target for the Cubs by Badler last month, and Chicago is still in "heavy pursuit" of the prospect. Two of the several scouts and international directors who comment in Badler's piece cite Jermaine Dye as a comparable for Jimenez.
- With the 2013 amateur draft just barely in the books, ESPN.com's Christopher Crawford (Insider subscription required) looks ahead to the 2014 draft, which could be headlined by two NC State products.
- FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi looks at ten players who have helped their trade value in recent weeks. Three of those players (Jesse Crain, Yovani Gallardo and Bud Norris) have recently had their trade stock examined as part of MLBTR's Trade Candidate series.
- In the video link atop that previous post, Morosi cites the Blue Jays, Padres and Phillies as being "right on the fence" as to whether or not they'll be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. If the three teams do decide to sell, plenty of arms will be available -- Morosi lists Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Eric Stults, Jason Marquis, Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee as possible trade chips.
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said he has no intention of releasing embattled reliever Carlos Marmol, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. Manager Dale Sveum said the same yesterday after Marmol allowed four ninth-inning runs in a 4-3 Cubs loss to the Mets. Marmol has a 6.08 ERA in 26 2/3 IP this season.
The Mets have generated most of the division's headlines today thanks to Zack Wheeler's official promotion to the Major Leagues, the signing of second-round draft pick Andrew Church and the news that the team plans to hold onto closer Bobby Parnell through the trade deadline. Here's the latest from elsewhere around the NL East...
- "There’s no indication the Tigers are pursuing Jonathan Papelbon," John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press writes. The Tigers, Cardinals and Red Sox were recently cited by the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo as some of the teams the Phillies believed would form a market for Papelbon at the trade deadline given those clubs' lack of a proven closer. Detroit has the most pressing need for a closer and money has rarely been an object for the club in recent years, though the Tigers may instead pursue a less-expensive bullpen option than Papelbon.
- "I don't do five year plans -- other organizations do, I guess," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro told reporters (including David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News) today, though Amaro did describe how long-term planning plays a natural role in his decisions. Murphy opines that Amaro may need to take the long view as the team approaches the trade deadline given that past moves such as the Ryan Howard extension have backfired and left the Phillies a flawed, expensive probable non-contender.
- B.J. Upton is finally hitting (a .946 OPS in 53 June plate appearances) after a horrible first two months. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution talks to the outfielder and several of his Braves teammates about those early-season struggles. Hitting coach Greg Walker noted that other recent major free agent hitters like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Adam Dunn also struggled upon joining new teams on big contracts.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum says his team has no intention of releasing struggling reliever Carlos Marmol and eating the rest of his $9.8MM salary, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. "We've come to find out that he has trouble with the last three outs," says Sveum. "But somebody has to pitch the other innings, and he's done a pretty good job in that role." Marmol allowed four runs in the ninth as the Cubs lost to the Mets 4-3 on Sunday. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- The Cubs' bullpen has struggled this season, but in the aftermath of this summer's trading season, the team's rotation could end up being just as weak, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Last season, the Cubs performed poorly down the stretch after the departures of two productive starters in Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm. This year, Wittenmyer says, Matt Garza and Scott Feldman could be those pitchers' 2013 equivalents.
- Phillies starter Jonathan Pettibone struggled Saturday, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that Carlos Zambrano won't be replacing Pettibone right away, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. "Not based on what I saw his last outing, not in my mind," says Amaro. "I’d like to see him pitch again [in the minors]. We’ll keep a close eye on his starts and how effective he is. But he’s not ready yet in my mind." Zambrano has an out clause July 1. He allowed two runs in five innings in his first outing for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday, striking out five and walking four. His fastball did not exceed 88 MPH.
- Speaking of Amaro, Bob Brookover of the Inquirer argues that "the bad has outweighed the good" in Amaro's stint as GM, and that it's unclear whether Amaro is the right person for the job. Amaro's signing of Joe Blanton and trade for Hunter Pence rank among his worst moves, Brookover says.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says James McDonald's future with the team could be in jeopardy, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Karen Price writes in a pair of tweets. "As the clock ticks we’ll have to make a determination as to where James best fits in this group, on this club, or does he fit," says Huntington. "That’s a question to be answered ultimately by James McDonald." McDonald, once viewed as a potential franchise building block after promising seasons in 2010 and 2011 and a great first half in 2012, has fallen out of favor after collapsing down the stretch last year and posting a 5.76 ERA with 20 walks in six 2013 starts. He has also struggled in his rehab starts since landing on the disabled list with shoulder discomfort.
- If the Blue Jays had already acquired Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio from the Marlins, they wouldn't have signed Maicer Izturis, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star argues. Izturis signed a three-year, $10MM deal in November, and the Jays acquired Reyes and Bonifacio days later. Izturis has hit .222/.258/.308 this season.
Now that the draft is over, teams are focusing more on bolstering their rotations with one more piece, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. No one more aggressive in the pursuit of pitching than Orioles GM Dan Duquette who knows that one veteran starter could make all the difference. While they're anxious to improve their starting five, it doesn't sound as if the O's will be in the mix for someone like Cliff Lee. “We’re looking for a starter and a reliever,” said Duquette. “We’d like to solidify our pitching all around because that’s the name of the game, really. We have to look at everything. Don’t think we’re going to be in the market for a big-money pitcher, but there seem to be some guys out there that we might focus on and see where it takes us.” Here's more from today's column..
- The Astros will craft a game plan early this week for how to approach their veteran assets. Teams are already calling about Bud Norris, who has a cheap $3MM salary, but won't be cheap to acquire. The Orioles, Giants, and Pirates have kicked around the idea of acquiring Norris, but one National League exec says there will be about a dozen teams interested before all is said and done.
- It seems like a no-brainer for the A’s to pick up Coco Crisp's 2014 option for $7.5MM, but he'll be in demand if they don’t. Even though he's 33-years-old, there aren’t many top center fielder/leadoff hitter types out there. Jacoby Ellsbury will be the No. 1 guy in that department, but , one American League special assignment scout said Crisp might be a better low-cost option because “he can do everything Ellsbury can do. Neither of them have an arm, but Coco is still fast, a very good outfielder, and can still be a game-changer.”
- The Phillies believe there are at least three teams — Red Sox, Tigers, and Cardinals — that may have some interest in Jonathan Papelbon at the trade deadline and the Phillies are scouting those teams with a potential deal in mind. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week that he’s not ready to “blow up” the Phillies, but a Papelbon trade could help retool the club.
- Teams continue to nudge Javier Vazquez into coming back to pitch, but the right-hander seems to be content with staying with his family, according to a source familiar with Vazquez’s thinking.
- The Red Sox can trade Stephen Drew now that June 15th has come and gone, and they would have no problem finding a taker given the lack of shortstops around baseball. However, Boston firmly believes that Drew is their guy. One National League GM doesn't quite understand their infatuation with the shortstop. “They’re either trying to justify the $9.5MM they paid him, or they’re not sold on [Jose] Iglesias, who could start for 29 other teams.”
- If the White Sox decide to finally bolster their farm system, they could get some helpful prospects back by moving right-hander Jesse Crain. The reliever is becoming a top name on wish lists around baseball.
- While many baseball people remain focused on Giancarlo Stanton’s availability in a deal, 25-year-old Logan Morrison is now healthy and has returned to the lineup. The Marlins first baseman/outfielder is a big lefthanded hitter who will be monitored closely by scouts over the next month.
Earlier today, the Mets made some roster moves, designating Collin McHugh for assignment to create a 40-man roster spot for newly promoted Carlos Torres. Here's tonight's notes from the Mets and the rest of the NL East..
- MetsBlog has a recap of Mets GM Sandy Alderson's Q&A session with fans and media today, including comments that the club may soon be ready to invest at the big league level. With a young crop of players beginning to emerge, Alderson indicated that the time may be near when the team will add veteran talent to the roster.
- The Phillies nearly acquired right-hander Wilton Lopez from the Astros during the offseason, reminisced Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Phillies staged a comeback against Lopez and the Rockies yesterday, with Gelb noting that it was a rare favorable turn of events for the Phillies bullpen situation. Lopez has pitched to a 4.25 ERA, 5.3 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 over 36 innings in Colorado.
- Nathan Eovaldi will make his 2013 debut for the Marlins Tuesday, reports George Richards of the Miami Herald. Eovaldi was a major piece of the deal that saw Hanley Ramirez go to the Dodgers, but has seen his first full season in Miami derailed by injuries. The 22-year-old right-hander has a 4.15 ERA, 5.9 K/9, and 3.9 BB/9 in 154 career innings.
The Phillies have struggled to stay competitive this season and have been rumored to be a trade deadline seller for weeks, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn't plan on moving his most valuable pitching assets. Amaro told reporters (including ESPN's Jayson Stark) on Friday that he has "no desire to trade those guys. At all," referring to Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon.
"My job is to try and put a contending team on the field every year, and we have a much better chance to be a contending team with both of those guys on the club," Amaro said. "If we have those guys at the top of our rotation, we're a better club. ... It starts and ends with pitching, as far as I'm concerned. So the more quality pitching you have, the better chance you have to build around that to win."
The general manager didn't draw the line at any midseason moves, noting that "We have plenty of people to trade" and that "four or five guys come off the payroll" after the season, which could give the Phils more flexibility. It could also seem to hint that four of Philadelphia's pending free agents (Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley and Michael Young) could be trade bait in July, though Young is the only one of the quartet who isn't on the DL, and Halladay's and Ruiz's injuries have greatly diminished -- if not destroyed -- their trade value.
Amaro didn't rule out bringing any of those free agents back in 2014 but noted that moves would still be made with an eye towards contending next season rather than beginning a rebuilding process.
"Whether you're talking about retooling or rewrapping or taking a different direction, I think there are ways we can do that," Amaro said. "But when you start talking about blowing it up, you're basically saying you're going to start from scratch. And that's not happening."
Dealing Lee (owed at least $78MM through the 2015 season) or Papelbon (roughly $33.6MM owed through 2015 with a $13MM vesting option for 2016) would count as sign that the Phillies were taking a step back to reload, and dealing Hamels (who just signed a six-year, $144MM extension last July) would count as the first step towards a major rebuild. Lee said yesterday that he wanted to play for a contender and that while his preference was to do so in Philadelphia, winning was his top priority. Lee has a partial no-trade clause in his contract that allows him to block a deal to 20 teams each season.